If you’re dreaming of having your own food truck business in Australia, you’ve come to the right place. Ben of Let’s Waffle ‘N’ Shake and Niall of Mountain Pops granted us an interview to discuss their experience operating their food trucks in Australia. Although the business is young, Ben has a lot to say about it. Talking to someone with a very new food truck has its advantages because we can get the latest tips and advice that are relevant to the current situation. Niall, on the other hand, has been operating his food business on a Danish Christiana cargo bike for 3 years now, and it is doing very well. Learn from these two entrepreneurs, and use the information that is relevant to you in the succeeding section.
FTE: Tell me a bit about your business and your products.
LWNS: Waffle ‘N’ Shake is our new dessert food truck business based out of Melbourne, Australia and serving Milkshakes and Wafflepops which are Belgium waffles on a stick topped with the most decadent and delicious sauces and toppings. We have been operating now for just over 2 months.
MP: My name’s Niall. I’m just about to turn 30, and I’ve been making and selling ice pops for 3 years.
FTE: What served as your guide to help you start your food truck business?
LWNS: The Victorian government has put together a pretty comprehensive website called Streatrader where you can apply for your Food Trade Act to your local council as well as lodge and manage our Statement of Trades (SOT’s) for the events we do. There are also other groups and online resource like the Australian Mobile Food Vendors Group that provide products and services to the mobile food vendor industry. Also, the Melbourne food truck community is a very friendly and valuable for receiving advice.
MP: I used to drive forklifts as my 9 to 5 job, and I quickly learned that it was not for me. And one day, I stumbled across an article about these guys in NYC called People’s Pops, and I thought, what better place to sell awesome and delicious ice pops than over the HOT, HOT, HOT Australian summer?
FTE: Setting up a food business is quite challenging. There are a lot of city regulations one has to comply with including health and fire safety requirements. How did you navigate through all that?
LWNS: Most of this all handled via Streatrader (https://streatrader.health.vic.gov.au/) and the Victorian Health websites (https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/food-safety) which are full of resources. Your local council can also be very helpful when first starting up.
MP: In Australia, it changes from state to state and even city to city – so just contact your local government, and they should be able to put you in contact with relevant agencies
FTE: One of the major concerns of food truck operators is finding good parking spaces. What has been your experience in Australia?
LWNS: Yes, this is the case and different council’s have different regulations with most requiring permits to park on street. Melbourne however is very food centric and more and more food truck parks are springing up where you can submit to trade at their park. For my partner and I, we both do this on the side of our full-time jobs so tend to stick to doing events and festivals on weekends.
MP: Pretty good really… although we are different as our truck is a Danish Christiana cargo bike
FTE: What has been your greatest challenge so far?
LWNS: For any new business, the main challenge has been getting your name and product out there and getting noticed. Social media for us has been paramount in building a following and to be able to connect with others in the industry like food and lifestyle bloggers and writers.
MP: For us it’s seasonal. We operate in Melbourne, Victoria and the winter months are very cold so it’s all about making as much money as possible over the summer months. At the end of the day, it’s all good.
FTE: Please conclude this interview with some words of advice.
LWNS: Do your market research and find a unique food offering. We saw a gap in the dessert food trucks and developed a unique product which not only tasted great but also importantly photographed well.
MP: It will seem super daunting at first, but once you’ve got your idea, just run with it! It’ll work. Trust me.
Thanks Ben and Niall!
We’ve rounded up some relevant links to help you with your startup business because we want your food truck business to materialize and succeed.
Plan & Start – Here is the “Plan & Start” page from business.gov.au. This is your starting point.
Business Name – Before you can start your business, you’ve got to have a business name right?
Starting a Small Business – Here’s the “Starting a Small Business” section of ASIC or the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.
Apply for an ABN – If you’re from Australia, you probably already know what an ABN is. If not, then you should. Either way, here’s the direct link to the ABN page of the Australian Taxation Office.
Let’s Waffle ‘N’ Shake – Don’t forget to visit Ben to say thanks!
Mountain Pops – Say hello to Niall for us!